Godeungeo gui (Grilled Mackerel)

Godeungeo gui is a grilled mackerel dish. Grilled fish is enormously popular in Korean cuisine. The fish is simply salted and either grilled over an open flame or pan fried. You can do the same with any fish.
 
Grilled whole mackerel fish served with lemon
 
 
Godeungeo gui (고등어 구아) is a grilled mackerel dish. Grilled fish is enormously popular in Korean cuisine. The fish is simply salted and either grilled over an open flame or pan fried.
 
Other common fish for grilling include jogi (croaker), galchi (beltfish), and kkongchi (Pacific saury). The high oil content, firm flesh, and strong flavor of these fish make them optimal for grilling.
 
I was brought up on these types of fish, and we usually grilled them over a charcoal fire on a small wire rack. Back then, charcoal (honeycomb briquette) was the main fuel for heating and cooking. My favorite fish was always godeungeo (mackerel). (For my Korean speaking readers, here is a nostalgic 1980’s song about a mother and godeungeo.)
 
Fresh mackerel should have firm flesh, clean skin and bright eyes. When purchasing a mackerel, ask for it to be cleaned and filleted with the skin kept on. The skin keeps the flesh moist and has a great smoky flavor. If you have to clean it yourself, mackerel is an easy fish to handle. Here is a good video guide by BBC Good Food on how to fillet a mackerel.
 
Grilled mackerel fish (godeungeo gui) served with a slice of lemon
 

Traditionally, the fish is heavily salted and let sit for several hours. This originates from an old technique to preserve fish. I like it less salty, so I salt the fish just enough to season about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. This method also helps retain the natural flavor of the fish. While all the fish needs is salt, I sometimes like to dress it up a little with a squeeze of lemon and/or grated ginger.

 
Mackerel butterflied for grilling
Mackerel pieces being salted for grilling
 
 
Do not overcook the fish. Remember the fish will continue to cook even after removed from the heat source. Also, there are differing opinions regarding which side of the fish should be cooked first. I’ve learned to cook the fish so that the presentation side gets direct heat first. For mackerel, I use the skin side for presentation because the golden brown char on its dark skin beautifully contrasts with the opaque flesh. Whatever you do, it’s important that you only turn the fish once and let each side cook undisturbed. This way, the fish will develop a nice crust and not stick to the grill.
 
This flavorful grilled mackerel is delicious with a bowl of rice, doenjang jjigae and some simple vegetable sides
 
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Grilled mackerel fillet (Godengeo Gui)
 
Godeungeo gui (grilled mackerel)
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5 from 1 vote

Godeungeo Gui (Grilled Mackerel)

Godeungeo gui is a grilled mackerel dish. Grilled fish is enormously popular in Korean cuisine. The fish is simply salted and either grilled over an open flame or pan fried. You can do the same with any fish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: broiled, fish, grilled, mackerel, pan-fried
Servings: 2
Author: Hyosun

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh godeungeo mackerel, filleted into 2 or 4 pieces, or a butterflied whole fish
  • salt preferably sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice optional

Instructions

  • Cut crosswise slashes on the skin side of each piece. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the optional ginger and lemon juice over the fish. Season both sides of the fish liberally with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Remove any visible traces of salt before cooking.
  • Cook the fish using one of the three methods shown below.

Grilling:

  • Clean and lightly oil the grill. Preheat the grill over medium high heat. Place the fish on the grill, skin side down.
  • Cook until the bottom edges are golden brown and the flesh turns opaque - 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for about 2 minutes.

Pan-frying:

  • Preheat a skillet with cooking oil over medium high heat. Place the fish, skin side down.
  • Cook until the bottom edges are golden brown and the flesh turns opaque - 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for about 2 minutes.

Broiling:

  • Preheat the broiler on high. Place the fish, skin side up, 4 - 6 inches away from the broiler.
  • Watch it carefully and cook until the skin is lightly charred and bubbly and the flesh turns opaque - 2 or 3 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for another minute or two.
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